Hooray for teachers

To the Editor:

Teachers hold the future in their hands by expanding our children’s horizons and experience. In their classrooms they create an atmosphere of honest inquiry and enthusiasm that will be remembered forever.

When are students old enough to know the truth about nature, our history, and ourselves? I asked this question of a group of teachers that I met recently. They all agreed that a good teacher always tells the truth. “That’s how we can learn from our mistakes,” one said. “The longer we hold onto myths or partial truths, the harder it becomes to change our minds.”

As adults, we are responsible for educating ourselves by choosing accurate sources of information. Our best teachers are the good journalists who dig for the truth and share it.

Recently, TIME magazine featured author Bill Browder, a British citizen who managed Putin’s finances between 1995 and 2004. Browder believes that Putin’s main motivation is to accumulate more money. Sound familiar? Greed and the fear of not having enough money, is a temptation we all have known.

Are we ready to face the fact that Americans have confused capitalism with democracy, and “family values” with community values? Do we see how the current, extreme divide between the rich and poor has undermined our ability to work together? Do we recognize that an exclusive focus on families and personal possessions hurts our local, state, national, and world communities?

The cover of a recent New Yorker magazine was a cartoon of a delivery man unloading a large box to a smiling family, while on the other side of the street scowling workers are loading the family’s trash into a garbage truck. Truth can hurt.

Despite the inspired words of some of our nation’s founders, our society has been based on the freedom to amass private wealth. The white people who came to this continent pushed the local inhabitants off the land and then brought African people to work that same land as slaves. The mistakes continue, and currently we have allowed our political system to be corrupted by money.

We can change the direction of our country by becoming informed voters. Good teachers are helping us face the truths about our past, an important first step. We can choose to rise above selfishness and fear and to move our country forward in the direction of peace with justice.


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